Responding to life’s inevitabilities

By Engr. Carlos Cornejo

When we are forced to change our plans at the last minute because someone needs our attention or a kid of yours wants to play with you when you are about to do some office work, at times these can often create an enormous amount of stress and can be irritating.  There can be countless other examples, times when our plans suddenly change, something we thought was going to take place doesn’t, someone doesn’t do what they said they would do, you make less money than you thought you would, someone changes your plans without your consent, you have less time than previously planned, something unexpected comes up—and on and on it goes.

The good news is that it rarely happens.  But if we reflect deeper on it, actually these sudden changes are a kind of test for us on what really are our priorities.   Are things more important to us than persons?  Is our office work more important than our attendance to our kid’s school recital?  Sometimes I would think that God in His providence set up these events to make us see our defects or to give us a chance to practice selfless love.  When your kid wants to play with you and you have to set aside your work for a while, or might have to stay up late to make up for the lost time, you’ll have to embrace that bonding time with your child because he or she will not be a child all the time.  Thus, when you look back to these times that you gave up something for your loved one, you would not have any regrets because you’ve prioritized a person over a thing.  Remember that there are no regrets on unfinished business in deathbeds.  A dying person’s regrets are always because of neglected relationships.

What’s really more important? Getting what we want and stick to our plans, or serve others and make them happy?  Or if something or someone has let us down, can’t we go with the flow of life and say “Here’s an instance when God wants me to practice patience and grow more in virtue.”  St. John Paul II, aside from being a great pope was also a moral philosopher.  He said that each time we decide on something that has moral implications we affect the world around us in a particular way and at the same time we are creating the person we are becoming.  Each of our moral actions, he said, is like a brick that we place little by little in putting up that edifice we call our character.

Richard Carlson, the author of the best-selling book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, said that it’s good for us to expect that certain percentage of our plans will change.  Thus, if we make allowances for the inevitable, when sudden changes happen, we are not too stressed out.  When we don’t expend too much energy for being upset with these inevitabilities in life, we become more productive with our work and eventually still get to achieve our goals and meet our deadlines in spite of those slight delays.  We are relaxed and the people around us will be able to relax too knowing that we can keep our cool in the face of these circumstances beyond our control.